Happy New Year from all at Churches Together in England!
In our fractured world, Hebrews 12:3 reminds us “not to grow weary and lose heart”.
As the Israel-Gaza crisis continues to unfold before us, we denounce the attack on Israel by Hamas on 7 October 2023. We also denounce the ongoing loss of life through the bombing of innocent people in Gaza by Israel, including homes, hospitals and refugee camps. While our CTE Presidents put out a statement asking churches to pray for peace in October 2023 and other Christian leaders have spoken out, I hope that further messages calling for a cessation of hostilities will be made.
On 24 February 2024, we will mark the second year of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia. This year we will once again stand with the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the people of Ukraine in their suffering, trauma and pain at the needless loss of life as they seek to support the many refugees who have found sanctuary in the UK. In 2023 CTE hosted a Ukraine Refugee Roundtable throughout the year, in 2024 this will become part of the Church Refugee Network led by friends at Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
All over the world, the Church is suffering persecution. In 2024 we will continue to stand with the Armenian Orthodox Church here in the UK as they respond to the Nagorno-Karabakh displacement as well as the suffering church in other parts of the world like Nigeria and India.
CTE looks forward to contributing to the Intercultural Church Conference in Leeds on the 20 January and hosting the Learning to be Missionary Disciples Conference at the end of the year in November 2024. Encouraging the church to engage together in mission and evangelism is a vital part of CTE’s work.
We also look forward to hearing from our first cohort of grant beneficiaries from The Bill Snelson Young Ecumenists Fund. The Fund aims to give young adults an ecumenical learning experience outside England. Raising is new generation of ecumenists will continue to be a cross-cutting theme for CTE in 2024.
We’ll gather our national Member Churches in the spring and autumn, focusing on the theme of safeguarding in our Enabling Group in March 2024. We will also continue to work with representatives from churches to train new ecumenical officers and to support intermediate and local ecumenical bodies throughout England, enabling them to share best practice.
Finally, 2024 is an election year and CTE is working with a number of agencies including Christian Aid, CAFOD and the Trussell Trust, to ‘Act on Poverty’, making poverty a key election issue. We encourage CTE Member Churches to proactively engage in the forthcoming General Election.
I remain hopeful for 2024. Blessings,
General Secretary, Churches Together in England, Bishop Mike Royal.
Photo: CTE General Secretary Bishop Mike Royal and Chair of Trustees Rowena Loverance © Churches Together in England